It’s National Coming Out day and I thought that I’d share my coming out story with you all. Let me set the stage. I grew up in a Roman Catholic household. Catholic school and church on Wednesdays and Sundays. The only reason my parents were able to wed was that my mom (Polish) and dad (Italian) were both Catholic. My Grandma was so upset my mom wasn’t Italian. The home was strict and racist/crude comments were heard by my little ears often. More on my father’s side, however, I do not remember my mom correcting him.
I grew up thinking that gay was wrong and gross and a sin. I remember thinking some girls were pretty, but I thought that everyone had those feelings and you just had to be with the opposite sex. Little did I know that it wasn’t just thinking they were pretty. I grew up, had serious boyfriends, moved out and met my first gay friend. Now I cannot tell you what or why I was more open-minded than my parents but something in me just had a love for everyone. I never judged him or what he did and we became very fast friends. He brought me to gay bars in Milwaukee and I started to see that these feelings I have inside were validated and I could potentially be happy. I didn’t have to force being with a man. I didn’t know how I would find a woman to date, but I knew that it was something I’d eventually muster the courage to do. This was back in AOL instant messenger days. Out of the blue, some random stranger messaged me about being sick with a cold and I answered back “go drink some orange juice” and that was the start of a pen pal. She was from Upper Michigan and I was still in Kenosha. We developed into a relationship and dated for a year before I decided that it was time to tell my parents.
My brother had already told me that I was gay so he was out of the picture, but my parents were another beast. They had gotten a divorce by now and were both in amazing relationships. I was always closer with my mom so one night on a drive home from Milwaukee (she was driving) I told her how happy I was that she found someone that made her happy. She then told me that she wished the same for me and I froze. I had been happy, so very happy for the past year. Now was the time. I started to bawl and told her that I was happy but it was with a girl. I apologized. Can you imagine! Apologizing for who you are to someone that should love you unconditionally? She looked at me and said that she loved me. No matter what she was my mom and she just wants me happy. 5000 bricks lifted off my chest that night. Now that I think about it, I probably shouldn’t have told her while she was driving just in case, but it turned out just fine.
On to my dad. You have to understand that this man was scary. I could never have a one-on-one conversation with him. The fear that ran through my bones was paralyzing. I wrote him a letter. It was long. I wrote out all the things that I was scared of and all the emotions I was having. I told him my story and I mailed it. We live in the same town, so that letter made it to him the next day. I didn’t hear anything for weeks. I knew that it was over, I had lost one half of my person and it ruined me. Then the phone rang. I answered and it was silent except for the faint sound of sniffles and tears. He was crying. A man that had never shed a tear in front of me was crying. He said he loved me and always will love me (I don’t remember when I had ever heard those words from him) and then we ended the conversation.
I had my family! It was hard and we had to work on it but it got better! Now 16 years later I’m engaged to the most amazing and wonderfully beautiful woman and I’m truly happy. Happy National Coming Out Day Humans!